Thu | Dec 8, 2016

St Lucia gov't urged to remove VAT on food items

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2015 | 5:29 PM

CASTRIES, St.Lucia, CMC – The two opposition parties here have urged the government to consider removing Value Added Tax (VAT) on all food items.

Leader of the Lucian Peoples Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent, said if the government takes such a step, then it would significantly reduce suffering of many poor families.

His comments were reiterated by Senator Mary Issac of the opposition United Workers Party (UWP).

The suggestion was made as Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony prepares to present the annual estimates of expenditure.

According to Prudent,“If the government removes VAT on food I guarantee you St Lucians will applaud it, because they are the ones feeling the pinch, they are the ones feeling the repercussions of having to pay so much to eat.”

He said unless the government wants people to continue to suffer, they should act now.

“The government seems to have taken a hard line, which is a line of policies by Denzil Douglas’ former administration, believing they can copy his style. This was rejected by the people of St. Kitts-Nevis,” he added.

Besides the high VAT on food, Prudent said the government has failed to implement an efficient price control system, which has in more than one way affected the buying power of the people.

“You might go to supermarket in St Lucia today and a particular commodity is selling at 79 cents, next day it’s 88 cents. Where is the price control? Government is is not using its leverage to control cost of living,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Opposition legislature Mary Issac said that given the recent VAT reduction by the government of St. Kitts-Nevis, Prime Minister Anthony should make every effort to review and reduce the country’s tax system, providing relief to all St. Lucians.

Issac, who is also president of the Civil Service Association (CSA), said while the government talks about poverty alleviation, she questions what measures have been put in place to address the issue of poverty.

“I don’t know if the government is even listening when these things are happening, because more and more you are seeing we keep spending without prioritizing,” she argued.

Issac has suggested that the government remove VAT not only on food and medicine, but on also commodities that children use.

In Kitts-Nevis, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris recently announced that taxes on food, medicine and funeral expenses will be removed effective April 7.